Romans 12:9

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:9

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” – Romans 12:9

Paul here moves to a more practical look at our Christian walk; in this verse dealing with love and goodness.  First, he addresses love, urging that his followers ensure their love is real and not just surface level.  It needs to be unfeigned, both sincere and not hypocritical.  It should go beyond the words we say and have its source be the very depths of our hearts.  Too many people wear a mask that covers their true feelings; those being mostly indifference.  This is not the love we are to have.  It must be genuine.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  John 13:34.  What kind of love is this?  A love that is real and pure and sacrificial.  He loved us so much that He was willing to die one of the most horrible deaths imaginable that we could be reconciled with the Father.  Is this the kind of love we have?  Would we be willing to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Is keeping what we have more important than meeting a need another has?  We must all answer this question for ourselves, with complete and total honesty.  If we find we come up short, we must pray and ask God to give us this kind of love.  This will show the world that your Christian walk is very real.  “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.

The other thing Paul mentions here is that we must look for and do that which is good.  This entails not only clinging to what is good but abhorring what is evil.  We must hate sin as much as Jesus did.  This hatred, when looked at in the context of this verse I believe focuses on malice and unkindness rather than evil in general, however, we are to absolutely hate that as well.  We should not speak ill of anyone, but our thoughts should be of love and our desire to help them grow in the faith.  He is exhorting us to show genuine love to others so that through this they will be encouraged to do the same.

As for the good, we should cling to it in a way we will not let go.  This word has the idea of ‘gluing’, that we will have no excuse but to hold firmly to it.  We should never depart from it at any cost.  This goodness also has the idea of how we treat others.  “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32.  This is a great picture of love.

This can be very difficult in this world today.  However, submit to the Holy Spirit and let Him give you the strength to love like this.  For this is how He loves us. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

1 Peter 2:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  1 Peter 2:1

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,” –  1 Peter 2:1    

The ‘therefore’ refers back to chapter one where Peter spoke of being born again to a living hope, that being life everlasting with God. As well as His calling on us to live a holy life. He is saying, because of all this, we are to put away all malice and guile, as well as hypocrisy, envy, and slander. As Christians and thus children of God, we must not participate in these things, for in doing so we are not acting in love for our fellow man. Let take a look at each of these.

By definition, malice is the intention or desire to do evil due to enmity against someone in our heart. While in some contexts this term simply means evil, depravity, or vice, the intent here regards ill-will. This refers to something that destroys fellowship which is harmful and could destroy Christian communities. It is often associated with grumbling, bitterness, and envy. This is an internal heart issue that eventually shows up in negative behavior.

Next comes guile, essentially saying one thing but meaning another. The idea here is that the person is speaking or acting with evil ulterior motives, which would in some way cause harm if the person accepted it. Next, comes a similar idea, hypocrisy. This is the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. This is where people are not so much robbed or injured as deceived.

Next we see envy, a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, luck, etc. This is looking at someone and either wishing you had something they had, or wishing they did not have it. And finally, slander. This is the idea of spreading something false about someone that injures a brother or sister’s reputation.

None of these should be done or promoted in the Christian community. These are the ways of the world, not of believers. As Peter wrote earlier, “Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.”   1 Peter 1:13-16. We are to be holy in our conduct and our thoughts. None of these are holy activities and should not be in us.

We are to be as infants who when hungry go for the mother’s milk. We should desire the word of God in the scriptures and learn how we are to live, and how not to live. We are called to love everyone; God, our brothers, and sisters in Christ, and those who are not saved. If we have malice, envy, and/or deceit in our hearts, or are hypocritical and slanderous, how can we say we love others? Jesus told the disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35. Do not take on these sinful activities, for in no ways are these characteristics of love, and if people see or hear of us doing them, it will cover the light we are to be in the world. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16.  

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

James 3:17

Verse of the Day Devotion James 3:17 

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” – James 3:17 

James begins his discussion on wisdom by asking a rhetorical question. “Who among you is wise and understanding?” James 3:13a. James is asking those who think they have special understanding and insight regarding spiritual matters to essentially step forward so he can check out whether they are telling the truth or not. Now, based on verse one, James is no doubt speaking to those who are teachers, or desire to be one. Those people who respond to James’s invitation soon find themselves the object of searching and perhaps unwanted scrutiny. For James assesses these people’s claim to wisdom not in theological terms—how much doctrine do they know, how many Greek verbs can they parse—but in practical terms. And the terms laid out is good behavior. And this good behavior is to be done in the gentleness of wisdom.

Then in the next two verses he lays out why gentleness is important. “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.” James 3:14-15.  These verses are the antithesis to James’ challenge in verse 13b. If a person harbors bitter envy and selfish ambition in the heart, that person is, in effect, living a lie: claiming to be wise but conducting themself in a way that denies that claim. The reason that James can draw this conclusion is that bitter envy and selfish ambition are contrary to humility.

If then, humility marks the wise person, these negative qualities exclude a person from being considered wise. He then explains his statement in the next verse, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” James 3:16.  In this verse, James justifies his harsh verdict on false wisdom by showing what these attitudes produce. He points out how egocentric, selfish attitudes inevitably lead to disorder and every vile practice. This sentence denotes a restless and unsettled state of mind. And James ends this verse by saying, “there is disorder and every evil thing.” James 3:16b.  And based on the transition to verse 17, this is not wisdom for where jealousy and selfishness exist, wisdom is not found. “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2.

Now, looking at our focus verse, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” James 3:17, we see an interesting point. Wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, and gentle. It is reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits. It is also unwavering and non-hypocritical. These things are in total opposition to verses 14-16. If these attributes exist, then the wisdom you may claim cannot be wisdom from God, it must be the wisdom of this world.  Paul questions this wisdom when he wrote, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20.  He in essence calls the wisdom of this world foolishness, which is counter to true wisdom from above. Thus, the wisdom of this world is not wisdom at all, but actually anti-wisdom.

In closing, true wisdom is actually the attributes of God exhibited in our lives.  Paul referred to these attributes as the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23. Let us walk in this way to exhibit true wisdom.  And the last two verses of this chapter clearly match what James said in our focus verse. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:24-25.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Luke 12:1

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Luke 12:1 

“Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” – Luke 12:1 

An important idea is found in our focus verse, in the last part, that being “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”  Luke 12:1b.  Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees were known to demand more from those who heard their teachings then from themselves who were the teachers.  There is an old saying that says, “Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say”. Another way this put it is, “We are to say what we do and do what we say.”  This is in essence what Jesus was saying.  Beware of those who say one thing yet do another. 

After this He gives them this warning.  “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.” Luke 12:2.  Do not do anything different from what you say, for when you do there is a good possibility it shall be found out and it shall be told to many.  And even if it is not discovered here in this life, it will be revealed in the next.  Many times the Jewish leaders would say it is wrong to do this or that, but then when they are by themselves they would practice the same things they declared as wrong.  No sin, be it ever so secret or privately done, is more covered than hypocrisy, but likely to be found out sooner or later; if not in this world, then in the world to come.  Jesus then continues.  “Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Luke 12:3.  Hypocrisy has a way of making itself known. 

A Pastor I know fell into this and it did not end well for him.  He was having an affair and somehow, and I do not know how, the word got out regarding what was happening.  He lost his pastorship, almost lost his wife, and many lost faith in him.  We must remember that the enemy wants to destroy our message, and what better way to do this then to make public the hypocrisy of Christians.  

We must also remember that as we judge we will be judged.  “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2.  How can we honestly judge others for what we ourselves are doing?  “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5.  If we tell someone that what they are doing is wrong and then go out and do it ourselves, possibly in a greater way than they do, how are we doing anything different than the Pharisees and Sadducees?  And if the other person finds out we are doing the same thing we denounced in them, we will be seen as a hypocrite and will probably lose the ability to speak into their lives.  And always remember that these things have a tendency to get talked about with others, which could destroy our impact and darken our light that should be shining bright in the world (Matthew 5:14-16).

It is important that, as Christians, we be real and genuine with people.  By doing so, people will be more inclined to listen and believe our testimony regarding the love of God and His desire to save them and develop a loving relation with them.  Many Jews lost confidence with the Pharisees because of their acts of hypocrisy.  Let us do nothing that will destroy our witness to a world that needs to hear it.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Matthew 23:28

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 23:28 

“So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. ” – Matthew 23:28

This particular verse is part of Jesus declaring the seven woes to the Scribes and Pharisees. This one is associated with the sixth woe which deals with hypocrisy. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27.  This is an extraordinarily strong condemnation of the Jewish leadership. 

He is comparing them to whitewashed sepulchers.  The purpose of whitewashing a tomb was not so much to clean them up or improve their appearance. These tombs were whitewashed annually to alert people that these were tombs so that they could refrain from touching them, which would make them unclean.  They looked quite beautiful on the outside, but because they had dead bodies inside, it was a violation of the law to touch it in any way.

So, when Jesus is comparing the Jewish leadership to whitewashed tombs, He is in essence calling them fakes.  On the outside, they look so good and pure.  They come across to all as righteous, but in actuality they are far from it.  When in public, they show themselves as keepers of the law, but when alone or with others like themselves, they do not follow it as defined.  This is the definition of hypocrisy, which in essence is claiming to have moral standards but whose behavior speaks to the contrary.  He condemns them as not being followers of the law, but pretenders. 

Do we have people today who act one way and think another?  Unfortunately, we do.  And we must be careful that we are not fooled by them, just as Jesus had warned His followers regarding this.  David wrote the following regarding his foes.  “There is nothing reliable in what they say, their inward part is destruction itself. Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue. Hold them guilty, O God; By their own devices let them fall! In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out, For they are rebellious against You.” Psalm 5:9.  They would lie endeavoring to fool him, and he is praying that God will deal with them justly. 

We need to look in two directions to ensure we are not led astray.  First, outwardly with those in the church.  We are not to assume it is going on simply because we believe it is happening.  This is a dangerous road to walk down.  But, if we actually see it, we do not gossip about it, but we go to them and help them to see it themselves and make the changes necessary to correct it.  “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”  Matthew 18:15-17  This may seem harsh, but it is critical for protecting those whom they may be influencing.

And second inwardly with ourselves.  We must examine ourselves and make sure we are not living a life of hypocrisy.  It can be easy to fool ourselves.  Before I was saved, I honestly believed I was a Christian, even though I lived a life contrary to the Christian walk.  However, God led two brothers to show me where I was wrong, and after a short period of time, God made it clear to me and I then gave my life to Him.  It is important we all pray and see where we are.  If there are changes to be made, then we make them.  It is the only way to be who God has called us to be, true followers of Christ.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.